New lecture series honours Catherine Branson’s contribution to law

Professor Kim Economides, Dean of Flinders Law School, with Lorraine Wohling from Lipman Karas.

Flinders University is partnering with specialist legal practice Lipman Karas to host a new lecture series in recognition of The Honourable Catherine Branson QC and her significant contributions to law and justice in Australia.

The Catherine Branson Lecture Series will be held biennially under a new Flinders-Lipman Karas agreement, with the inaugural lecture; Business and Human Rights: The New Global Consensus?, to be delivered by Catherine Branson herself at Flinders University Victoria Square on May 14.

Ms Branson was President of the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2008 to 2012, following a 14-year term as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. In 2012 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Flinders University in recognition of her long-standing contributions to law, particularly in South Australia.

Professor Kim Economides, Dean of Flinders Law School, said the University is “delighted” to partner with prominent law firm Lipman Karas to further recognise Ms Branson’s contributions to law, justice and the legal profession.

“Ms Branson has been a distinguished judge and leader of the local legal profession, but one who has also been prominent at a national and international level,” Professor Economides said.

“The Law School and Lipman Karas jointly decided it would be a fitting gesture to acknowledge her achievements and standing as a pioneering Australian lawyer by hosting an ongoing lecture series in her honour,” he said.

As part of the inaugural lecture, Ms Branson will provide a critical examination of the suggested global consensus on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. She will also consider the likelihood that Australian corporations, particularly those engaged in transnational business, will face increased regulation in the human rights area in the future.

Professor Economides said the ethical and corporate legal responsibilities of the business sector is a “cutting-edge” theme within the current human rights discourse.

“Human rights traditionally are concerned about roles and responsibilities between the individual and the state, which is well-trodden ground,” he said.

“However, the inaugural Catherine Branson Lecture Series will explore human rights from the emerging perspective of business and corporations, and how their actions can also impact on both individual and collective human rights, as well as the environment.”

Professor Economides said the new sponsorship agreement between Flinders and Lipman Karas provides a welcome opportunity for innovative thinkers at the forefront of legal developments to come together and engage in meaningful discussion.

“While recognising the many contributions that Catherine Branson has made to the law, we aim to take Flinders’ relationship with the legal profession and wider community to another level and together explore important topical legal issues that confront South Australians.

“As Dean of Flinders Law School my hope is that this new venture will help promote an ever closer relationship with Catherine Branson as well as other prominent local lawyers and citizens.”

Fiona Steffensen, principal of Lipman Karas, said the firm is delighted to partner with Flinders to present the lecture series.

“The Catherine Branson Lecture Series not only honours a highly respected and distinguished South Australian legal practitioner, but provides an opportunity to promote open discussion on the role of law, legal institutions and the legal profession in an increasingly diverse Australia,” Ms Steffensen said.

“It is important to us to partner with leading educational institutions such as Flinders University to develop and participate in these important discussions.”

The inaugural Catherine Branson Lecture Series will be held in Room 1, Flinders University Victoria Square, 182 Victoria Square, on May 14 from 5pm-8pm. Register online  or contact (08) 8201 5028.

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